Just last year, there was the 24-21 win at Ohio. Coaches expect to have to win some of these with good teams (ask Frank Beamer if he would like an "ugly" win instead of a 28-7 pasting by WVU, but fans expect blowouts even on a day that was 40-degree, raining and poorly attended in Buffalo. Let's look at the grades:
Offensive Backs A How can I go otherwise? Earl Charles, a marked man for the second week in a row without Butchie Wallace, responds with the first back-to-back games with 100-plus rushing since Doug Chapman in 1997. Charles also scored twice. Stan Hill, despite some drops and five sacks, hits for 26-of-42, zero interceptions and 292 yards and runs for a touchdown on his "bum" knee. I'm sorry, when MU needed a touchdown, Hill drove them down the field in four plays and gave it to Charles to seal the win...pretty strong.
Offensive Line D Below the high standards we hold MU linemen to, giving up five sacks to a team with only five in seven games. Charles had some great second and third efforts to break 100 yards on the ground. Guys, you are better than this and better be against the sack-happy Broncos (24 sacks in seven games).
Receivers B Darius Watts passes Mike Barber in career catches at MU with nine for 98 yards and a score. Josh Davis has five for 55 yards, plus a rush for 13 yards. True freshman Hiram Moore given a chance to shine and responds with a 39-yard catch early in the game for a first down and three total for 74 yards. Other receivers, including tight ends, invisible on a day lending itself to big numbers against Blitzing Bulls.
Defensive Line B Holds UB tandem of Aaron Leeper and Dave Dawson to only 87 yards combined. Paul Sinclair, in relief of injured Toriano Brown, chips in four solos and four assists, as does end Jamus Martin. Jonathan Goddard has six stops as does Reggie Hayes, and Jamaal Whyce has four. UB held to 4.1 yards per play.
Linebackers BTeam led by Kevin Atkins with seven solos and 11 total stops, once again leading team in J.T. Rembert's absence. Charlie Tynes has nine stops, Dionte' Wilson has seven. Rover Gladstone Coke (three solos, seven assists) has his best game ever, and Chris Royal had one solo, one assist and the only sack by the Herd in relief of Coke.
Defensive Backs CCurtis Keyes has another big day tackling, with seven solos and four assists. Roberto Terrell has interception, five stops but also burned occasionally for key gains. Willie Smith had only one solo, three assists. An average effort for a unit that needs to be above average against the nation's fifth-best passing offense this week in Western Michigan.
Special Teams C Another troubling fumble on punt by Tremel Guillory, three punt returns for minus-six yards. Two kickoff returns for 30.5 yard average, including big one after UB makes it 16-13 that puts Herd at Buffalo 44-yard line. Ben Lewis struggles with wind, a problem in most MAC stadiums in late fall, kicking five times for 28.2 yard average. Herd let an extra-point get blocked and missed on a two-point try. Bulls held to 20 yards per kickoff return and only six yards on three punt returns.
Overall C A wins a win, and sometimes that is the bottom line in a game. Watch out, WMU, it is time for an "Up" weekend in this 2003 rollercoaster ride.